ACCESS (Adapting and Changing Children’s Environments with Successful Solutions), a locally founded non-profit fund of the Northshore Community Foundation, has announced that the 8th annual Boo Fest will be held on the grounds of Lakeview Regional Medical Center on Saturday, Oct. 28, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The popular Northshore event benefits children with disabilities and their families, but is open to children of all abilities. The gates open for early admission for special needs families at 9AM, followed by general admission at 10AM for the entire community. Admission is only $2 per person.

“For children with disabilities, especially those with mobility issues, trick-or-treating can be difficult” says Aaron Karlin, MD, ACCESS Chairman and event Co-Chair, “Boo Fest is a Halloween party for kids who wouldn’t normally be able to enjoy the Halloween spirit; it gives them the whole experience in a fun, safe, and less scary environment.” According to ACCESS board member and event Co-Chair Jim Silvestri, “We started this event eight years ago as a way for all children in our community to experience the fun of trick-or-treating. It has grown to nearly 10,000 attendees each year and more than 70 trick-or-treat houses and castles for the kids to visit and enjoy.” The wheelchair accessible walking path around the duck ponds and green space adjacent to Lakeview Regional Medical Center allow children of all abilities to go house-to-house collecting treats. The day is packed with lots of fall-themed activities which include pumpkin decorating at the pumpkin patch, face painting, all-abilities games, a complimentary photo booth, music and dancing provided by a DJ, participation by State Police Troop L, and much, much more. Children are encouraged to wear their favorite Halloween costume and take part in the annual Boo Fest costume contest competing for the titles of “Spookiest”, “Most Original,” “Crowd Favorite,” “Cutest”, and “Best Group” costumes.

Local businesses and members of the community may get involved in Boo Fest by sponsoring a trick-or-treat house or castle. Each sponsor will receive and then decorate a 5-foot tall cardboard “gingerbread-style” house or castle in a theme of their own choosing from which they will also hand out candy and other giveaways to the numerous children attending the event. Cash prizes will be awarded to winning trick-or-treat houses in the “Scariest,” “Most Creative,” and “Kids’ Choice” categories. Placement of the houses and castles will be in one of six Halloween-themed “neighborhoods” in addition to other locations along the walking path. Businesses are asked to provide their own candy or non-edible treats for distribution. Varying levels of Boo Fest sponsorships are available to area businesses/families interested in participating including: Great Pumpkin ($5,000), Boo Town Sponsor ($2,500), Haunted Mansion ($1,000), Haunted Castle ($500), or Haunted House ($250). Sponsorship forms can be downloaded from the event website, Access Louisiana, or on ACCESSLouisiana's Facebook. Pictures from prior years’ events are posted on the website, as well.

 All proceeds raised from Boo Fest sponsorships assist families of children with disabilities with purchasing home or van modifications, assistive devices and adaptive equipment that have been denied by private insurance and/or Medicaid. In its first eight years, ACCESS has raised nearly $200,000 for the pediatric and adolescent disabled community from the Boo Fest event. For more information about ACCESS or for Boo Fest sponsorships, contact Dr. Aaron Karlin at or at (985) 718-7532.

Back for a 6th year, the Northshore Area Board of Realtors (NABOR) Annual Chili Challenge will take place during Boo Fest. NABOR is the non-profit professional association of agents, brokers and affiliate members in St. Tammany, Tangipahoa and Washington parishes. This is NABOR’s 10th Annual Chili Challenge. The event is open to all interested in a fun afternoon demonstrating their culinary talents, while supporting programs that benefit children with disabilities and their families. Part of the proceeds from the Chili Challenge will be donated to ACCESS. Teams are invited to participate in the Chili Cook-Off Challenge, with 1st and 2nd place winners, along with awards for Best Booth Showmanship. The cost to enter a team is $150 with separate event sponsorships also available. 

NABOR Board President, Peggy O’Neil of Mauti Meredith Scoggin Real Estate, is encouraging the Northshore community to come out and support this tremendous event. NABOR is excited about this continuing partnership with ACCESS, as it also supports the mission of the NABOR organization in serving the community. For more information on the Chili Cook-Off Challenge, contact the NABOR Office at (985) 674-4233, 2017 Chili Challenge Chair Mark Pellettiere, (985) 515-5825.